In case you haven’t noticed, there is another Democratic presidential primary debate on the calendar for next week. The fourth debate, which will be hosted by CNN and The New York Times, will take place in Ohio and feature 12 candidates (12!) on stage at one time on the same night.

CNN/New York Times Democratic Debate (Fourth Debate)
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019
Time: 8 pm ET (5 pm PT)
Location: Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio
Sponsors: CNN, New York Times
Moderators: CNN hosts Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett, along with New York Times National Editor Marc Lacey

Despite earlier pledges from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to cap primary debates at 10 candidates per night, they decided that adding a couple more podiums to make a nice dozen candidates on stage is just what the audience wanted.

Biden, Warren Share Center Stage

Here’s the lineup and where each candidate will be standing on stage for the Oct. 15 debate:

October Dem Debate Podiums

The list includes, from left to right, Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, and Julian Castro.

Clearly, as the graphic shows, this will be set up as a showdown, once again, between Biden and Warren. The only question is how aggressively the two candidates will interact with each other. Back in the September debate, Biden and Warren also shared the center stage spotlight, though their exchanges were fairly tame compared to many of their opponents.

What Happened to Kamala Harris?

She played pivotal roles in the first two debates, now she’s seemed to have fallen off the map in terms of waning poll numbers and waning support. She remains popular, in general, with Democrats, but she has lost all traction she once had in the primary. FiveThirtyEight tried to answer the question of why Harris seems to be stuck:

It’s too early to write Harris off; she remains well-liked by Democratic voters and has raised enough money to keep her campaign running for months. In other words, she is decently positioned to make gains if one of the top three candidates falters, or if she can create another moment, like in the first debate, that gets Democrats excited about her.

But it’s worth thinking about why Harris has stumbled from that post-first-debate high.

They draw a variety of conclusions, each one holding a grain of truth. For starters, Harris is still fairly young by political standards, she simply may not have been ready to go all-in for the 2020 campaign while still building a career in the Senate.

The other area where she’s lacking this year has to do with a deep Democratic field. The competition is tough, and her lane in the primary is crowded by both Biden and Warren who each would cut a slice into her vote share.

Finally, it’s worth considering that Harris simply hasn’t run a very good campaign. She came out of the gate with a strong launch, only to start floating along without building any real traction. She took a risk to try and take down Joe Biden in June and July, though arguably that move ended up hurting him some but backfired on her more.

Warren Polling Strong Heading to Fourth Debate

It’s worth pointing out that Warren’s support has continued to grow and crystallize around her candidacy. With a slew of positive polls lately, Vanity Fair notes that Warren has overtaken Biden in the RealClearPolitics average by fractions of a point, for the moment:

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s slow but steady rise through the 2020 ranks has officially put her at the top of the pack—albeit by a very small margin. The Massachusetts lawmaker officially overtook former Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday in RealClearPolitics’ 2020 polling average, polling at 26.6% as compared with Biden’s 26.4%. Warren is also notably the only candidate whose polling has steadily gone up throughout the primary, while Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who holds a 14.6% polling average, have seen their popularity fluctuate and go down from their starting highs.

By the time you read this story, another poll may have knocked Warren off the top spot of the national polling average, but here’s the graphic as proof:

All this data adds up to someone patting Warren on the back and sarcastically saying, “no pressure.” In reality, though, Warren will be under a lot of pressure next week, as will Biden, but for different reasons.

Warren will need to try and build on her support, perhaps try to demonstrate that whatever reservations Democratic voters have toward her, they should cast them off and give her a chance.

Biden, on the other hand, might be trying his hardest to tie Warren’s policies to Bernie’s policies and argue they’re simply too extreme to win in 2020 and compete in areas where Democrats need to make up ground, like states in the Midwest.

It all happens on Oct. 15 at 8 pm ET live on CNN.